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The UK inflation rate stayed at 0.3% in February, the same as January.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the rising food prices, in particular vegetables, helped to keep the Consumer Prices Index unchanged.

Last year inflation reached zero and the annual inflation has continued to be below the Bank of England’s 2% target for the past two years. The Bank expected inflation to stay below 1% this year.

Under the separate Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure, inflation was 1.3% in February, which also showed no change from the previous month. The measure includes housing costs.

The ONS reported that government borrowing fell less than expected in February at £7.1 billion. Chancellor George Osborne is close to missing his target for cutting the budget deficit in the 2015-16 financial year. The total deficit now stands at £70.7 billion for the 11 months of the year. The chancellor’s full-year target is £72.2 billion.

On Wednesday 16th March Chancellor George Osborne will deliver the Budget plans to members of Parliament in the House of Commons.

Although the Autumn Statement happened back in November 2015, it was another update on the Chancellor’s economic forecasts. The Budget this week will contain more detail and will happen at 12:30pm and last approximately an hour.

Pension changes were not covered in the Autumn Statement, so some expect changes to this in the Budget on Wednesday. Some have said Osborne may reduce the amount that people can save into their pension.

Although nobody knows what George Osborne will deliver in the Budget, many think that it could be possible for him to introduce a new flat rate on tax relief on contributions of between 25% and 33%.

The Chancellor has admitted that he may have to impose further austerity measures. This could mean more reductions in the budgets of non-protected government departments. He also warned that more savings will be needed due to the worsening of the economic backdrop.chancellor

Questions on new Pension Freedoms
Recent changes mean that you can choose how to take your money from your pension. For example, you could take unlimited lump sums as and when you like, or even take the whole amount if you wish. As previously, you can take up to 25% of your pension pot tax-free, and a taxable income from the rest, which is added to other income for tax purposes. So how do you decide? Here are some of the key questions you may have.

How long will my money last?
We are all living longer, on average a 65 year old in good health is expected to live for 24 years after retirement and it is thought that 25% of us will live to see our 95th birthday. Retirement savings will have to last for a long time, possibly 30 years or more. Leaving your money invested for longer could make a big difference to your lifestyle along your retirement journey.

How much State Pension will I get?
The amount of state pension is not the same for everyone and it depends on your employment history and when you were born. Remember the State Pension is designed to cover only a very basic standard of living without any luxuries.

What about savings I have?
If you have bank saving accounts, premium bonds or ISAs, it may be better for you to take money from these first before drawing from your pension plan. If you own your home you might think about downsizing or renting it out to fund your retirement.

What are my future financial needs?
Consider all of your living expenses, like household bills and family costs, and how these may change over the coming years. Remember to budget for holidays, transport and house repairs. Also factor in the fact that your financial needs are likely to reduce as you get older and become less active, but keep in mind that in your later years costs of long term care may be required.

How can I minimise my tax bill?
Consider your personal tax allowances and plan to take your retirement savings in a way which makes the most use of your personal tax allowance so you don’t have to pay tax unnecessarily.

Should I buy an annuity?
An annuity is a promise by an insurance company to pay you an income for the rest of your life. You should check the terms of the annuity before you commit as they cannot usually be changed afterwards. It is worth shopping around different insurance companies before you buy as prices can vary.

Will I lose any my welfare benefits?
If you are receiving state benefits or Tax Credits then taking your retirement savings could impact on the level of those benefits. This is a complicated area and expected to change in the near future. Make sure you understand how your state benefits, tax credits or long term care needs would be affected before deciding to access your retirement benefits.

What happens when I die?
If you die before age 75, any money left in your pension plan will be paid to your survivors free of any tax. If you die after 75, money paid to your survivors may be subject to tax depending on their circumstances. Retirement savings which remain in pension plans are not normally counted for inheritance tax purposes. If you have purchased an annuity, benefits payable after your death will depend on the insurance contract.

The value of pensions and the income they produce can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invested.
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British business could save at least £10 billion because the Queen’s Speech outlined plans for a bill to cut red tape.

Independent regulators, who are charged with making sure that this target is achieved, will monitor the plans. In addition to this, the bill has proposed a new Small Business Conciliation Service, which will help settle disputes between small and large businesses. This will help solve the concerns over late payment, which is particularly a concern of small businesses. The service will handle disputes without the need for court action.

Ahead of a revaluation which is due in 2017, there ill be a reform of the current system where businesses can appeal against business rates and this is intended to simplify the process. The government stated that it intends to take action to strengthen UK competitiveness and to back businesses to create jobs. It intends to make the £10 billion cuts by the end of this parliament.

Although zero hour contracts may be great for some, for those who are trying to earn a living and have stability in their lives, these contracts are not what they’d hoped for. For those who don’t know what zero hours contracts are, which is probably very few, it is the agreement between the employer and worker, which means they are not obliged to provide the worker with any minimum working hours. This also means that the worker does not have to accept certain hours, but how many is offered can vary from week to week.

Life on a zero hour contract can be tough for some, especially when they can’t find work elsewhere so therefore, they do not give up the little work they could be given. Other jobs may not be able to provide flexible hours and so, this may be their only option. The Labour party was particularly interested in ending exploitative zero hours contracts but considering they were not elected by the general public, workers could still have to face the dreads of minimal working life.

Ian Duncan Smith, the Conservative work and pensions secretary, said that zero hours contracts should be re-branded and called ‘flexible-hours contracts’. He disagrees with former Labour leader, Ed Miliband, and says that most people who are on this kind of contract are those who cannot guarantee hours. These are people who have caring responsibilities and people who are in education.

On the flipside of this, zero hours contracts are useful for these kinds of people as students in particular, who may need to have a job to fund their living or university fees, can work around their own schedule. However, this still does not guarantee work when they may need it and the employer does not have to give the work. Although it is a good point from the work and pensions secretary, something needs to be said for those who may not be as flexible but do still need to work at certain times.

Patrick Tatarian, a student ambassador on a zero hours contract at Kingston University said: “Zero hours contracts do have added flexibility and having flexible hours is good when you have other commitments, such as us student ambassadors. There are times where we’re too busy to work.”

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) stated that between October and December 2014, 697,000 people were employed on a zero hours contract for their main job. This was based on figures from the Labour Force Survey. All in all, this figure represents a total of 2.3% of the UK workforce. This figure is still higher than the figure of 586,000, which is 1.9% of people in employment, reported for the same period in 2013.

According to the ONS, this survey also found that employees received on average 25 hours of work per week with a third of those wanting more hours. This compared with only 10% of other people in employment. In addition, the ONS also said that the zero hours workers were, in most cases, women or in full-time education and aged under 25 or over 65.

For now it seems, zero hours contracts are to stay put in the UK and this may please or displease some people. As the economy grows there could be a chance that there would be less need for them as businesses would have more money to offer employees jobs that would have more security for them.

Cashless payments have overtaken notes and coins for the first time, according to the Payments Council.

The use of cash by consumers, businesses and financial organisations fell to 48% of payments in the year before, the Payments Council said. Electronic transactions such as high-value transfers and debit card payments made up the other 52%. Cheques are also included in this percentage.

Cash is used less than before, with debit card, contactless and mobile payments on the increase according to the Payments Council, which oversees the system of transactions. Over the next 10 years, cash volumes are predicted to fall by over 30%.

In 2014, cash remained the most common payment method among shoppers and businesses even though the growth of digital money continued to sprout. During this same year, some 18 billion cash payments were made in the UK, which was worth around £250 billion.

Debit cards accounted for 24% of payments and direct debits accounted for 10% only. Cash was still the most popular during this period and was used more than eight out of ten purchases in places such as pubs, clubs and newsagents. However, it was used in fewer than three out of ten in petrol stations.

The Payments Council predicts that in 2016, the majority of transactions will be made by cashless payments. This is mostly because younger consumers say that they are less reliant on cash. Despite this, cash is expected to see a significant overhaul in future years, with a new 12-sided £1 coin entering circulation in 2017 and plastic £5 and £10 notes coming into effect by the Bank of England in 2016 and 2017.